These eight Utah mysteries are baffling. Some have reasonable explanations; others might never be solved.
1. Was Lilly E. Gray a "Victim of the Beast?"
Lilly E. Gray died of natural causes on November 14, 1958 in a Salt Lake City hospital. Her husband, Elmer, had the words, “666 Victim of the Beast” inscribed on her headstone. Why? No one is entirely sure.
2. What happened to John Baptiste?
John Baptiste was a convicted grave robber who stole jewelry, clothing and personal items from more than 300 graves. He was sentenced in 1862 for his crimes and sent to prison, but local citizens were so outraged at his crimes that lynch mobs gathered outside. To keep the peace, city officials exiled Baptiste to Fremont Island, a remote island in the Great Salt Lake where they figured he would be safe to serve his sentence. However, three weeks later, when they went to check on him, he had vanished. A few years later, human remains with an iron clamp on one leg were found in the mouth of the Jordan River, but Baptiste did not have shackles on when he was left on the island. It’s unclear whether he escaped, drowned or was murdered.
3. Is There a Monster in Bear Lake?
Rumors of a monster living in Bear Lake have been circulating since 1868. The Deseret News reporter Joseph C. Rich reported that he had seen the monster himself and that it was a serpentine creature of about 30 feet long. Rich later recanted the story, but the legend stuck.
4. Where is the Rhodes Gold Mine?
Thomas Rhodes made his fortune as a gold miner, then came to the Salt Lake Valley in 1849. Brigham Young asked him to work closely with Ute Chief Wakara, who had recently been converted to the church. Wakara agreed to let Rhodes mine gold from a secret mine, with the agreement that the money go directly to the church. Rhodes and his son made several trips to the gold mine, bringing back as much gold as they could carry. When a new chief took Wakara’s place, Rhodes was no longer allowed to mine the gold. He later later claimed that he couldn’t remember the exact location of the mine, and U.S. geologists sent to the area couldn’t find any gold. Many have searched for the Rhodes Gold Mine, but its location remains a mystery.
5. Is Skinwalker Ranch a UFO Site?
Also known as Bigelow Ranch and Sherman Ranch, the 480-acre property is the site of some strange activity. Stories include the mysterious deaths of cattle, UFO sightings and strange animals that cannot be killed with bullets.
6. Did Butch Cassidy Really Die in 1908?
Butch Cassidy is one of Utah’s most famous citizens. He was born in Beaver in 1866, but grew up to lead a life of crime as a bank robber and outlaw. He supposedly died after in a gunfight in Bolivia on November 3, 1908. However, rumors abound that Cassidy survived that attack and visited his relatives in Circleville, Utah before his death in Nevada in the 1940s.
7. Was D.B. Cooper a Utahn and Former BYU Student?
A man identifying himself as “D.B. Cooper” hijacked a plane in 1971, demanded $200,000 and four parachutes, then bailed out over the Pacific Northwest. Four months later, Richard McCoy, a Utahn and former BYU student, hijacked a plane, collected a $500,000 ransom, and bailed out of the plane via parachute. He was later captured and convicted of the second hijacking. While serving his 45-year sentence, McCoy escaped prison and was later killed in a shootout with police. Some investigators believe that McCoy is “D.B. Cooper,” but the mystery may never be solved.
8. Did Humans Walk at Antelope Springs 500 Million Years Ago?
William J. Meister took his family to Antelope Springs to look for trilobites in 1968. He found a trilobite surrounded by what looks like a human footprint. That wouldn’t be so unusual, except that the footprint was formed in shale that was between 505 and 595 million years old. The earliest known humans are believed to have lived about 2.5 million years ago.